IT’S NOT NICE TO FOOL WITH MOTHER NATURE
Tacky commercials for Global Cytodynamics play on large video screens as we enter Theatre of NOTE, advertising improved lifestyles through genetic alteration, including that of learning, memory, pleasure and belief systems. Projection designer Steven Calcote and the always extraordinary sound designer Cricket Myers brilliantly take us into the future, where company founder York (the remarkably creepy Kyle Nudo) appears as a holographic image, announcing that he has committed suicide. His wife, Janna (the adroitly beleaguered Sarah Lilly) prefers drinking to taking over the corporation, wryly observing that she can get a new liver if she wants. Genetic engineer Lips (Bruno Oliver) creates a “temporary offspring,” one which robotically converses on demand, after which Joseph (Jeffrey Wylie), fellow engineer and new head of the company, compulsively tinkers with the new infant at home, subconsciously hoping to fill a void in his marriage with Haley (effectively chilly Harmony Goodman).
In a world where teenagers can grow tails as easily as piercing an ear, Playwright Luis Arturo Reyes presents a myriad of ethical dilemmas inherent in genetic tampering, such as a priest wishing to modify his congregation’s faith, or a deaf person violently upset that they are treated as if they need to be fixed. Thanks to sharp, witty writing – and a skilled cast – The Limitations Of Genetic Technology is entertaining and assuredly thought-provoking regarding the complex issue of genetic modification versus self-acceptance, even as the script becomes a little too mired in anti-technology morals to attain the emotional impact that the subject promises.
Skip Pipo, Cathy Diane Tomlin, Nancy Dobbs Owen and Ben Fuller manage to handle a multitude of roles effectively. The main issue for me was the large number of short scenes; each one was intriguing, but the script construction seemed to diffuse the escalating tension innate in the plot. Director David Watkins, Jr. and his team establish the chilliness of a future so near at hand, even as the proceedings lacked a sense of urgency. It is well-recommended for the compelling subject matter, wonderful performances and persuasive dialogue.
tonyfrankel @ stageandcinema.com
photos by Amy Calcote
The Limitations Of Genetic Technology
scheduled to close December 12 at time of publication
for tickets, visit http://www.theatreofnote.com/